United States v. Williams

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 09-07-2012
  • Case #: 11-30118
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tashima for the Court; Circuit Judges Hug and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

At sentencing, charges may be grouped under § 3D1.2 if they involve substantially the same harm directed at the same victim. "Indirect or secondary victims are not meant to be included in the term 'victim.'"

A jury convicted Williams of three counts of wire fraud and one count each of extortion, possession of an unregistered firearm (pipe bomb), destruction of a letterbox, making a false official statement, possession of an unregistered firearm (zip gun) and possession of a firearm without a serial number (zip gun). With the exception of the last two counts involving the zip gun, Williams committed the first seven counts throughout a complicated scheme to try and bilk an investment committee recovering funds from a ponzi scheme out of money in exchange for information he supposedly learned while conducting his own private investigation. At sentencing, the district court grouped together the seven counts because they represented a "common scheme." Williams appealed. The Court determined that the sentencing guidelines "specifically provide . . . that indirect or secondary victims are not meant to be included in the term 'victim' under § 3D1.2(b)." Although Williams used the pipe bomb in the mailbox as part of his scheme to try and fraudulently receive payments from the investment committee, the direct victims of the pipe bomb explosion in his mailbox were local residents, and the indirect victims were the investment committee. Therefore, possession of the pipe bomb, destruction of a letterbox, and false official statement should be grouped separately from the fraud and extortion charges. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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